Into the Magic Shop
Extraordinary things happen when we harness the power of both the brain and the heart
Growing up in the high desert of California, Jim Doty was poor, with an alcoholic father and a mother chronically depressed and paralyzed by a stroke. Today he is the director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University, of which the Dalai Lama is a founding benefactor. But back then his life was at a dead end until at twelve he wandered into a magic shop looking for a plastic thumb. Instead he met Ruth, a woman who taught him a series of exercises to ease his own suffering and manifest his greatest desires. Her final mandate was that he keep his heart open and teach these techniques to others. She gave him his first glimpse of the unique relationship between the brain and the heart.
Doty would go on to put Ruth’s practices to work with extraordinary results—power and wealth that he could only imagine as a twelve-year-old, riding his orange Sting-Ray bike. But he neglects Ruth’s most important lesson, to keep his heart open, with disastrous results—until he has the opportunity to make a spectacular charitable contribution that will virtually ruin him. Part memoir, part science, part inspiration, and part practical instruction, Into the Magic Shop shows us how we can fundamentally change our lives by first changing our brains and our hearts.


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Into the Magic Shop Reviews

  • Mary Anne Thompson
    Jan 17, 2017

    Mary Anne Thompson

    A really amazing look at the power of mindfulness combined with an open heart. Dr. Doty's account begins with his growing up poor and gaining wealth and positon and ends with his realizing that it is only with an open heart that he is truly happy. ...

  • Charlene Lewis- Estornell
    Sep 12, 2016

    Charlene Lewis- Estornell

    This was basically Tuesdays With Morrie with some neuroscience thrown in. Far too sensational. Far too exaggerated. Far too ...... everything. Was he really that insightful at such a young age? Is any of that even true? Was Ruth that insightful? I doubt it. This reads more like a morph...

  • Angie McDonald
    Sep 9, 2016

    Angie McDonald

    This dude is wildly narcissistic. He fabricates a simple and digestible story so that he can reframe meditation and mindfulness as his own unique idea to sell books to the masses. For being a neurosurgeon, there's little science in this book. His own selfish desires and egocentric life...

  • Barbara
    Jul 16, 2016


    For me this memoir divides into four topics: - Author's heartbreaking youth and teenage years- Discussion of and instruction in "the magic"- Author overcoming incredible odds to reach - and then lose - incredible wealth- Author's redemption by re-orienting his focus from building wealt...

  • Amina
    Apr 10, 2016


    It is the story of James, a little boy who grew up to be more than an ordinary neurosurgeon..James grew up in an unstable house, with a depressed mom and a drunken dad, he was really poor but he has always had that "caring thing".. One day, he went to a magic shop to buy a plastic thum...

  • Vanessa
    Mar 24, 2016


    One of those rare books where, as I'm reading it, I keep thinking of more and more and more people I want to give it to! One of those rare ‪books‬ where, as I'm ‪reading‬ it, I keep thinking of more and more and more people I want to give it to! ...more ...

  • Darth J
    Mar 16, 2016

    Darth J

    There's just something so sapioromantic about this book. You just have to stop and revel in the gorgeous wonder of the brain, the sheer capacity of all it can do. While there are graphic depictions of brain surgery here, the focus is mainly on neuroplasticity and the importance that pr...

  • Heidi The Hippie Librarian
    Mar 9, 2016

    Heidi The Hippie Librarian

    I received a free advance reading copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads. FTC guidelines: check!Into the Magic Shop is James Doty's memoir. He had a tragic childhood with parents who, for various reasons, were not present for him. Then, after an encounter with a total stranger...

  • Claire McAlpine
    Feb 20, 2016

    Claire McAlpine

    James Doty never really set out to write this book, but he told his story to so many people with whom it resonated and being one of the founding creators of CCARE (The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research) he was eventually convinced how many more people could be inspired by his...

  • Cinthia
    Feb 20, 2016


    *I received this ebook at no charge via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*Based on the title, I was expecting more about neuroscience. However, this book is self-help.Once I realized that I would get none of what the title promised, I lost interest. I have no problems with sel...